why do you guys still use film?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Mike Henley, May 20, 2004.

  1. Mike Henley

    Mike Henley Guest

    No this isn't trolling, i'm truly curious.

    The reason i ask is because i'm wondering why people still use film,
    eventhough digital is so convenient and recent cameras from nikon and
    canon are apparently quite good.

    The rason i'm curious about film at this time is because i'm
    considering a minox GT-E which i saw and fell in love with the looks
    of it. I guess i'm a sucker for retro looks. I think i'll get it even
    if all i was gonna do with it is just look at it. I'm not sure though
    how it'd feel to use film again now that i got so used to the perks of
    using digital. Why do you guys still use film?

    I'm aware the minox GT-E is a manual camera and i'd need to fiddle
    with controls and stuff. Is this worth it? Would manual control
    produce better pictures than a good quality (canon/nikon)
    Mike Henley, May 20, 2004
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  2. Mike Henley

    George Guest

    I use film and digital...I guess I could ask you why you limit yourself to
    digital only. Some reasons I sometimes use film:

    1) I want my wide angle and fisheye lenses to be wide angle and fisheye
    lenses...I already have a large investment and like the glass I've got and
    NO desire to "re-buy" lenses

    2) I want to take a lot of photos w/o spending $2k on four 4GB MDs -- each
    $500 (retail) or $235 (hacked Muvo2) is the equivalent of about $15 of
    Konica film -- I'll leave out printing because costs are comparable but in
    the favor of film as well ($0.29 each for digital, 36 prints are $10.44 vs.
    $4.99 for processing/printing + extra set locally)

    3) I want to take lots of photos w/o lugging a laptop to download them to in
    order to free up memory cards

    4) I want to take some rapid sequence shots w/o spending $20k on high speed
    memory cards and lower resolution but higher speed digital bodies

    Anyway, those are the reasons I shoot film. But digital is very nice, too.
    George, May 20, 2004
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  3. Mike Henley

    zamboni30000 Guest

    I'll give my serious answer. Convenience =/= better.

    I enjoy the benefits of both, though I don't yet have what I would
    consider a "good" digital camera. Even when I do buy a better digital,
    I will probably have a film camera for as long as film is still sold.
    I realize that film will be gone someday though.

    For what it's worth, I have a microwave oven, and an old fashioned
    stove.. The microwave is faster, more convenient and takes up less
    space...but it isn't "better." That's my opinion...and I'm stickin' to

    zamboni30000, May 20, 2004
  4. Mike Henley

    Chris B Guest

    I'm sure plenty of people will get into the technical aspects of film vs.
    digital, so I won't get bogged down in it when more knowledgable people can
    reply. IMO, it comes down to what you expect from your photography and what
    *you* want to use. In 35mm, you'll need a really good film set up to compete
    with top-end digital, yet the expenditure would probably be higher on the
    digital route. It is very difficult to compare like-for-like digital and
    film cameras - such a comparison probably doesn't really exist. For one
    thing, just look at the price difference between the film and digital
    versions of Pentax's *ist.
    My reasons for using film have a lot to do with price. I love the quality my
    35mm SLRs can produce and if I want to compete with that, whilst also having
    the flexibility of an SLR system, I need to pay out a quite considerable
    chunk of money (for me, anyway). I'd buy a DSLR tomorrow if I had the money
    lying around and nothing else to spend it on. Still, I think I'd use my 35mm
    cameras as well though, purely because I think the formats have different

    I dunno what the price differences are in your neck of the woods, but have
    you thought about the Ricoh GR1 as an alternative to the GT-E? I'd probably
    consider one of those over the Minox.
    Still, that said, I'm a second-hand man and would prefer one of the Rollei
    35's over those two.

    Now, there is also something of the 'novelty' factor about this. So, you're
    used to digital now? Maybe a little bit bored with it? Might like to have a
    go of a film camera again?
    That might be a bit like me. When I stepped up to SLR's from P&S, I decided
    that I couldn't go back. But, I also have a Pentax A110 system which I use
    from time to time. It uses 110 film cartridges. Definately, an inferior
    system - so why use it? For the pure novelty and enjoyment factor, I still
    love to take it out with me. Admittedly, there is also the convenience of
    having a smaller camera.
    Again, I've used medium and large format cameras as well, and I appreciate
    the detail I can get with those formats, but I'd only ever take them out
    when I had a shot in mind that required that level of detail. A large format
    camera would be wasted on the majority of my photography.
    So. Why the hell did I write all that stuff about my camera choices above?
    Well, because I'm a little bit self-centered and also because I have my own
    ideas about what I need my cameras for and how I need them to perform. You
    should have your own ideas as well. At the end of the day, the format
    doesn't count. The end result and how you display it are the things that
    should matter. So, buy whatever you need to get the job done and if you're
    not sure what you need, then you need to experiment some more. A Minox GT-E
    is a big investment if you're not sure if you'll ever use it - why not pick
    up a decent Rollei B35 from somewhere (they're really cheap) and see if you
    use it? If not, it won't have been a massive waste of money.

    Chris B, May 20, 2004
  5. Mike Henley

    Ron H Guest

    Well I'm kind of new to this list but I use both. I use a digital camera for
    a lot of "snap shots" and it works OK but I have a considerable investment
    in 35mm equipment especially lenses and I really like the flexibility of the
    body/lens combo. I shoot a lot of 35mm and then scan the film to take
    advantage of the power of the computer to crop and adjust etc. Once in the
    digital domain I can print "proofs" pretty cheaply and a lot less mess!

    I guess I agree with the others that both technologies have something to
    offer so why limit yourself to either one?

    For what it's worth!
    Ron H.
    Ron H, May 20, 2004
  6. Mike Henley

    Skip M Guest

    I still use film when digital won't give the desired effect. I still,
    despite much finagling, haven't been able to get a completely satisfactory
    black and white image from digital, so that's one instance where I use film.
    And Agfa Ultra 100 has a vibrancy missing in digital, so if I want that, I
    use film. But 90% of my color work is done with digital.
    Skip M, May 20, 2004
  7. Mike Henley

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: "George"
    Canon and Nikon/Kodak both have full-frame dSLR's now, so that's not an issue,
    if you can afford the bodies. I have the Canon 1Ds and it works fine with my
    wide angles.
    Konica film? LOL ... anyway, a 1 GB 40x Lexar goes for about $230 right now,
    with enough capacity for about 160 RAW shots from a 6 Mpix dSLR like the 10D or
    about 90 shots on my 1Ds, or 2.5 rolls of film. But I can reuse it as many
    times as I want, unlike film (has a life time guarantee). I'm paying about $12
    a roll for processed Velvia, using the best lab in the state, so a card would
    be paid for after 19 rolls, and then it's basically free.
    I'm planning for a long trip to Alaska this summer ... last few times we did
    this we took a small knapsack full of film as our "personal" carry-on, and the
    most we could get in it was 9 boxes or 180 rolls. Now that I've switched to
    digital except for medium format I have a wide-screen laptop with charger, CF
    card reader and 20 CD-R's in a briefcase that's smaller than the film bag I
    used to carry. Plus I can use the laptop to connect to the 'net in Anchorage
    or to do all the other things you can do with a laptop. I can "develop" my
    shots each night with the RAW converter program and make sure things are going
    as planned, and by burning a CD of the best shots I can do something I couldn't
    do with film, create an exact duplicate for backup and mail it back home for

    I'll take carrying the laptop over carrying 180 rolls of film any day.
    $20K ... not even close, the "lower resolution but higher speed digital bodies"
    like the 4 Mpixel Canon 1D and Nikon D2H are around $3,200 and the new Canon 1D
    Mark II, with 8 Mpixels and 8.5 frames/sec is $4,500. Toss in a couple of fast
    1 GB cards and you're set for around $5,000.

    Bill Hilton, May 20, 2004

  8. 1) Because the cameras I love to use (F2, M6 and that wonderful monster,
    the Rolleiflex SL2000F) are not digital. I just don't like the current
    plastic auto-everything cameras.

    2) Because most of my favorite (only prime) lenses won't fit any
    existing digital camera.

    3) Because I like super-wide lenses; no affordable digital camera can
    use those (don't tell me that an incredibly expensive 14mm which becomes
    a 21+mm is a super-wide!).

    4) I like the look of B&W film. Grain has its own aesthetic.

    5) There is the "Zen" aspect of doing things traditionally or following
    a ritual (turn over developing tank 3 times, wait for next minute,

    6) Film is cheap (especially if bought expired by the metre... Before
    you flame me, low & medium speed B&W does quite well after expiration).

    7) I don't want to spend lots of money on a camera which will be
    obsolete in a couple of years. My current cameras will probably outlast me.

    I do have a non-SLR digital for when I need instant results or for
    internet use. But everything "serious" is done on film.

    The Minox GTE has a wonderful lens. Unfortunately the body electronics
    tend to fail easily. A Rollei 35 is more reliable (and even more
    manual). Fiddling with controls means YOU get to decide how the picture
    comes out.

    Chris Loffredo, May 20, 2004
  9. Mike Henley

    Nick C Guest

    Because it's my preferred photo media.

    Nick C, May 20, 2004
  10. Mike Henley

    Chris Brown Guest

    I have a Canon 10D digital SLR, with is a really nice camera, but it's also
    comparatively heavy, bulky and invites attention which you may sometimes not

    I also have a Voigtlander Bessa R 35mm rangefinder with a couple of lenses
    (Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 and an old Leica 90mm f/4), which goes with me
    pretty much everywhere. It's small, easy to carry (I can put the camera with
    the 35mm lens round my neck, where it hangs unobtrusively, and put the other
    lens in my pocket), only uses the battery for the light meter, so it should
    last pretty much forever, and to the casual observer looks like a cheap and
    nasty point and shoot camera, so nobody pays much attention to it.

    The rangefinder doesn't have any fancy metering modes, or automation, but
    it's such *fun* to use. Using it feels a lot more elegant than the DSLR,
    almost like it's closer to some ideal of "real" photography. The polite
    little "click" it gives when one releases the shutter feels much more
    satisfactory than the comparative rock-concert that is the DSLR's shutter

    And there's the question of what film to use. I really, really like the
    different "style" I get from using black and white film, or a really
    saturated slide film like Velvia.

    I get some really nice pictures from both the 35mm and the digital (and some
    really snapshotty ones as well - we're not all Ansel Adams ;-)), and
    scanning film is really not that much more inconvinience than using RAW for
    every shot on the DSLR (it is never put in JPEG mode) in the grand scheme of
    things, at least for an amateur photographer who's doing it for their own
    enjoyment. Getting a good scan, or good RAW conversion and getting the
    levels, contrast, etc. just right to make a really nice print is half the

    At the moment, I'm on the lookout for something like a used medium format
    twin lens reflex - that should be even more fun than the rangefinder.

    To make an analogy, I guess using both a good DSLR and a nice manual
    film camera as an amateur photography is a bit like owning two cars, one a
    nice sensible family car for the wife, kids, dog and shopping, and the
    other, a small, not entirely comfortable 1970s type sports car. In terms of
    pure utility, you know the sports car makes little sense, but that's not
    really the point, is it?

    (Actually, that's probably unfair to the rangefinder - there are certain
    situations where it's demonstrably the more practical camera to use, as well
    as being more fun).
    It would if you know how to use it. My DSLR spends pretty much its entire
    time in aperture priority, or full manual mode, using partial metering,
    despite having automatic "point and shoot" modes, and clever evaluative
    metering, etc. IME, none of that seems to help me get better photographs,
    but YMMV.
    Chris Brown, May 20, 2004
  11. Mike Henley

    Bandicoot Guest

    For me it isn't cost effective. Most of my clients want slides, and if they
    will take digital it would have to be from an MF back to get the file sizes:
    the film cost savings for just those clients wouldn't pay for one of those
    by the time it was obsolete and I had to buy a new one.

    Also, film still has a quality edge even at 35mm - I think for some subjects
    this is more obvious than others. And I prefer the tonality film gives and
    its ability to retain more highlight detail.

    Also, I have a large investment in film and an expertise in using it: no
    point in re-learning a load of stuff until I know that doing so will pay for
    the time I take out to do so - right now it wouldn't.

    If I was a press photographer I'd have been digital years ago, if a wedding
    or portrait photographer probably last year, but for my work (landscapes,
    flowers & gardens, studio stuff, quite a lot of MF) the time isn't here
    yet - and may never be for all my work.

    Bandicoot, May 20, 2004
  12. Mike Henley

    pioe[rmv] Guest

    I use film for landscapes, because all digital cameras below Canon 1Ds
    are incapable of matching the detail that can be extracted from 35mm
    film and a good scanner.

    Quality is much more important than convenience, at least in my
    opinion. Others may view it differently.

    Per Inge Oestmoen, Norway
    pioe[rmv], May 20, 2004
  13. Mike Henley

    Bandicoot Guest

    Sounds like a nice walking around combo.

    I sometimes like unobtrusive cameras too. But the last time I was out with
    a thirty year old Yashica rangefinder I stopped to take - quickly and
    handheld - a picture of a couple of guys sweeping up their tyre business at
    the end of the day. Immediately one of them says to me "you know you'll
    need a release from us if you want to sell that" - well, yes, I did know and
    I would write to them about a release if it looked like being a saleable
    shot, but I thought at the time I must have looked about as unlike a pro. as
    is possible: this never happens to me when I'm using a modern whizz-bang

    Go figure...
    If you like manual mechanical cameras, yes, you'll love it. And the quality
    will make any DSLR look really rather sad.
    Well, I take photo.s for a living, I don't drive for it (though the car
    carries me and the gear to the locations I shoot). So I drive the car I
    like, and use the cameras I need. But even so, like any workman, I prefer
    using nice well made tools to nasty and merely adequate ones - and this is
    reflected in my camera choice.

    Bandicoot, May 20, 2004
  14. Medium, not media. Media are plural....
    Michael Scarpitti, May 20, 2004
  15. Mike Henley

    Jerry L. Guest

    To save time.

    Time is money: with digital, one has to use a number of minutes (or
    hours) getting everything 'just right.'

    One wedding (200 to 250 images) involves shooting film, taking the
    film to the lab, getting back proof prints, sticking the proofs into a
    small album (or albums.)

    If you can find a good 'digital' lab, you can drop off your 'cards'
    [of course, a wise person would have a duplicate of all images prior
    to going to the lab **time used here** ]

    One annual job I have is 3-days of shooting in a somewhat dusty area:
    results are 35 to 40 rolls of 36-exposure film. I would not want to
    try this with a 'dust-sensitive' digital box, plus all the lenses are
    not exactly what you expect. If you use a 24mm lens on a 35mm film
    body, it is 24mm. On a digital, it may be 36mm or 38.5mm (the camera
    companies are not giving the user the mental recognization needed to
    advertise a 'digital' lens at 36mm.]

    Printing is another area of 'cheap' digital double-talk. If you do
    print at home or in the office -- you need to include a color
    calibration program (software,) paper, inks, equipment maintenance,
    and **time** in your equation for 'dropping' the use of film.
    Currently, a printer for printing letters is good enough: I have no
    desire to duplicate a commercial color printer.
    = = =
    Jerry L., May 20, 2004
  16. Mike Henley

    Chris Brown Guest

    That's what I'm hoping for. Just got myself an Epson 4870 in preperation.
    Not the best scanner for sqeezing every last drop of detail out of film, but
    I'm trying to avoid spending too much money on this, and the results I'm
    getting from scanning 35mm slides are better than I was expecting, so it all
    bodes well for playing with MF.

    The prospect of doing a stitched pano from a 6*6 TLR and Velvia is also
    quite an intriguing one.
    Chris Brown, May 20, 2004
  17. (Mike Henley) wrote in
    Well, ask yourself this: Is photography defined by how convenient the
    image is to get?

    Remember that convenience is in the eye of the beholder, and as
    you're being shown, can be argued any way you like. In the end, what do you
    have to show for it? Some people will have an increased workflow, or more
    profit. Some won't.

    Digital assists new photographers in one way only: They're not afraid
    to experiment. Practice is what teaches us, and if digital makes people
    practice more, so be it. Beyond that, you have to be shooting hundreds of
    images a month, and selling only a fraction of those, for digital to make
    any kind of cost-effectiveness comparison.

    Why would you look to others for justification? If you're interested
    in the camera, buy it. My reasons, and my workflow, and the things that
    piss me off the most about digital, are unlikely to mean anything at all to
    you and your methods.

    The camera is a tool. The images you get from it are a function of
    how well you can use the tool and how much effort you put into it all,
    nothing more.

    Some people (me among them) insist on having full control, because
    their approach to photography requires it. The image is 'composed', not
    simply 'taken'.

    Others get a lot more from not having to mess with settings. They can
    get frustrated when they have to analyze the conditions to know what
    settings to use, and in some cases this means the opportunity has come and
    gone. With experience, you can analyze a shot in fractions of a second and
    slap those knobs exactly where you need to. But this takes the time to
    learn it and the interest to do so.

    BUT... if you know how to use a manual film camera well, and what
    exposure takes and when to use an aperture of f22, you can pick up *any*
    camera and use it as well as it allows. At that point, you'll be able to
    see the limitations that every camera has, and how they pertain to your own
    individual shooting methods. And presumably at that point, you can not
    worry about what other people choose, because you know what you need for
    yourself. That's not as snotty as it sounds - take it only at face value.
    Only you know what to look for in your photographic tools.

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, May 20, 2004
  18. Mike Henley

    Skip M Guest

    But the word "media" is singular...there being only one word. <G>
    Skip M, May 20, 2004
  19. Mike Henley

    Alan Browne Guest

    1) Minolta haven't coughed up a DSLR to go with my lenses.

    2) Even when they do, for some uses, film will be preferred.
    You're in love with the looks of a camera? Wow. That's a great reason
    to buy it. Go for it.
    "Fiddle with controls and stuff." Wow, THAT'S PHOTOGRAPHY!
    The Minox in question will outperform most P&S cameras due to its simple
    high quality optics. Controlling them critically will allow you to make
    superb photos. If I'm not mistaken, the 35mm FL lens is not changeable.
    Alan Browne, May 20, 2004
  20. Mike Henley

    Alan Browne Guest

    ....and those projected digital images looking anything like a projected
    Velvia slide? Faggedaboutit.
    Alan Browne, May 20, 2004
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